This is the latest in a series of interviews with fellow personal finance bloggers. Today’s guest is Jack from Enwealthen.
Who is Jack?
Jack: I’m a 40-something tech guy living and working in Silicon Valley who’s lived through the first and second dot-com booms and busts, as well as playing the Silicon Valley IPO lottery at startups along the way (with the usual lottery outcomes!). Fortunately, being financially secure, I can afford the amount of popcorn required to properly enjoy my front row seat to the daily battles of the tech titans.
Why did you start your blog?
Jack: Mainly out of ignorance – of the thriving personal finance blogosphere. Originally, Enwealthen started out as book reviews of my favorite personal finance books and education seminars like Rich Dad and Millionaire Mind – just recording my thoughts and experiences and sharing them with the world. As I became more involved in the personal finance community, it’s metamorphosed into more of a record of my financial goals, processes and outcomes. Plus, being a geek at heart, whether computer or finance, I wanted to experiment with all the tools associated with running an online business – hosting, WordPress, social media, email marketing, etc.
What are your favorite Blogs?
Jack: Oh boy. I read a lot of personal finance blogs, and so many of them are absolutely stellar and need no introduction to anyone in the community. To pick a few that aren’t already in your interviews that your readers might not be familiar with…
ARB over at Angry Retail Banker has opened my eyes to the reality of a retail bank branch and their processes. Plus his biting commentary can be refreshing in a time when people are too worried about offending someone to write what they truly feel.
Super Saving Tips is another regular read. Gary has great practical advice on life and money and has an engaging and straight from the heart style.
Even though he’s no longer writing, I have to give a shout out to Brave New Life. He operates at a higher level than many, and is another inspiration on my journey to my own financial freedom. If you’ve never read any of his posts, I recommend you visit his site and start at the beginning.
When did you first become financially literate?
Jack: On my 24th birthday, I was run over while out riding my motorcycle. I didn’t have uninsured motorist insurance. Worse, I had no health insurance because I had just graduated college and my employer hadn’t converted me to full-time yet. Better yet, the woman who hit me (it was also her birthday, what are the odds!) didn’t have any insurance either. The final insult to injury? My employer let me go the following week after telling me for months he was going to convert me to full-time.
So there I was, broke, unemployed, no transportation, and $10K in debt from medical bills (back when that was a lot of money…)
It took me 2 years to get back on my feet financially – job, debt free, emergency fund in place, insurance, transportation. I never received a single penny from the woman who hit me, despite receiving a judgment against her.
Lessons learned? Always have insurance. Always have an emergency fund. Avoid consumer debt. Treat everyone on the road like they’re trying to kill you.
What was the last item you regretted purchasing or did not any value to your life?
Jack: My Audi. Several years back, my car finally broke down and needed replacing. Being exceptionally tall, finding a car with enough headroom is always a challenge. As Mrs. Enwealthen says – “He doesn’t go test driving, he goes test sitting to see if he fits.”
I made the mistake of purchasing a 2-year-old Audi A6 – attractive and smooth to drive, but an unreliable piece of junk that cost an arm and a leg every time it broke down, which seemed to be every other month. Fortunately, auto makers caught up in the headroom department during my hate-hate relationship with the Audi, and when I replaced it (Subaru this time), I had many more choices.
If you died today, would your family be okay from a financial stand point?
Jack: I’d say fair to middling. Between assets, income, and term life insurance, Mrs. E would still have to go back to work, and barring scholarships the boys would have to help pay their way through college (depending on inflation!) but for the most part, things would carry on. I learned my lesson about insurance the hard way, and whether it’s auto, umbrella, or life, I want to make sure my assets and my family are protected.
What are you teaching (or will you teach) your kids about money?
Jack: This is near and dear to my heart with a baby and a toddler at home. My parents didn’t do much to teach me about money other than saving in a bank account and watching my grandfather listen to the stock reports on the radio. So I’d like to do better for my kids.
While I haven’t worked out the specifics yet, there will be the obvious warnings about debt, living within your means, power of compound interest etc.
There will definitely be some dividend stocks given early, likely with at least one physical stock certificate to hang on the wall.
And let’s not forget the Zimbabwe trillion-dollar bill to remind them of the value of money vs. physical assets.
I’ll also be looking for ways to instill an outside-the-box thinking to foster my kids investing in themselves and their futures, so they earn money more entrepreneurially rather than just having a job. Trading your time for money is a losing game – the sooner you can escape that rat race, the better off you’ll be. This is something no one taught me, but I had to learn myself, again the hard way.
I’d love to emulate the soda machine lesson, or something similar, for my sons once they’re older.
What’s your dream job?
Jack: For me, a job has always been just a job, a way to bring in the income that I need to achieve my future goal of financial freedom. I enjoy my work in the tech industry, but it will never be a passion or life mission.
At this point, I’m living my dream job – being a father to my 2 boys. Since I was raised by a single mother, there’s no job more important, more infuriating, or more wonderful, than being a father.
Are you pursuing financial independence? (FIRE) If not, what’s your take on the FIRE concept?
Jack: I love the concept of FIRE, and applaud all who achieve it. While I doubt I’ll hit the “retire early” aspect of FIRE given my current net worth and looming college expenses, I’m looking forward to being financially independent with a secure retirement. Compared to the overwhelming majority of Americans who will be subsisting on an overburdened Social Security system, I consider my secure retirement to be success enough for me.
What’s one of your favorite personal finance books?
Jack: Always hard to pick a favorite, but I was recently re-reading some of my earlier reads and really enjoyed Robert Kiyosaki’s Unfair Advantage. Despite being a controversial figure, it was his books that pushed me to the next level, financially, and refocused my attention from simply investing to achieving financial freedom. While he has many books, including his original Rich Dad, Poor Dad, I prefer Unfair Advantage since it consolidates advice from several of his books into a single source.
Enwealthen focuses on the simple steps to financial freedom – making money, saving money, and investing money. As a personal finance blog, the primary goal is to educate myself and others about money, chronicling my thoughts, experiences, and advice on my journey to financial freedom and a secure, enjoyable, retirement.